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Series/Special. Columnist and author Thomas Friedman discusses the President's role in American foreign policy. New.

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  CSPAN    Foreign Policy    Series/Special. Columnist and author Thomas Friedman  
   discusses the President's role in American foreign policy. New.  

    October 7, 2012
    1:25 - 3:00am EDT  

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[applause]
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[inaudible conversations]
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>> conversations [conversations not audible]
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[conversations not audible] >> oned fourth, fifth, sick sixth day of being in audience, he said, mr. president, you are going to have a trillion dollar deficit. he said, i haven't done anything yet. >> we cannot keep looking our children in the eye knowing that we are going to give them a diminished future because we are spending their money today. it's a very simple idea. mitt romney and i are going to bring it to washington. we have got to spending money we
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don't have. we must cut spending. we must get a balanced budget. we must get this debt under control. >> this thursday night, congressman paul ryan and vice president joe biden will face off in a debate. you can watch and engauge with c-span with our life debate preview starting at 7:00 eastern. your actions, calls, e-mails, and tweets at 10:30 following our live coverage on c-span, c-span radio, and online at c-span.org.
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>> sunday a debate in the u.s. senate between linda mcmahon, republican, and representative chris murphy, democrat. รบ
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>> i will not raise taxes on middle income families. >> now he says five weeks before the election, his big, bold idea, is never mind. >> it's arithmetic. >> sunday watch the entire debate at noon eastern time, here on c-span.
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>> now a discussion of the changing international order and the president's role in leading foreign policy. this is about an hour and a half. >> i am david rothkopf. we have a terrific panel here.
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>> we are g going -- we are going to open with a quote, and then i will ask them a couple questions about related issues. following that, at the end of each one of these sort of 20 or 25-minute sks, i'm going to look to you for questions, so we can keep this as interactive as possible and have you as engaged in the discussion as possible. at the end, there will even be a little more time so that if we haven't covered something in the context, then you will be able to introduce that into the discussion, and we will wrap up here promptly at 8:00 tonight. when we do get to the questions and answers, it would be good if
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you identify yourselves, and keep your statements in the form of a question rather than an oratio flfment. i have already spoken to them about the same goals, which is to have a lot of brief comments and engagement on each of the issues. we're going to start, as our first issue, on the theme of american decline. bob famously wrote here, and those of you in the first three rows can read this. those of you in the back -- i will read it for you. bob actually said in an interview, "the united states both economically and mill tarle and also in terms of its overall influence is really is as strong as its ever been." he said this on february 21, 2012.
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do you agree with the assertion that right now or in 2012 the united states is as strong as it has ever been? >> it depends, david, if you are speaking about strong relative to whom. i think it is true we are still the most emulated in the world. but it is possible to be the world's cleanest dirty shirt. so i sort of america as going back to -- i have to answer this in a little bit of detail. in terms of, one of the things that made us strong to start with, and i would argue, that we actually had a formula for success in this country. one, we educate our people up to
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and beyond what the technology was, so they can get the most out of it. whether it was universal secondary education, and then it was universal post secondary education. second, we have the world's best infrastructure. roads, railroads, third, we have the world's most immigration policy. so we get the most energy etic and talented im-- energetic and talented immigration. fourth, we have the best rules. lastly, we have the most government-funded research. we push the balance on science and technology, so our best innovators are here. in education, we now, well, roughly 30% of high school students drop out of high school. we used to ld the world in
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college graduates. we no longer do that. on infrastructure, according to the american society of civil engineers, we are now $2 trillion in deficits in terms of infrastructure. a great education, and get the hell out of our country. we are fighting on each one of these issues that are so vital to our greatest strength. i don't think we can remedy this . and on budget-funded research, it looks wike an e.k.g. heading for a heart attack. in terms of the things that have historically made us great on each one of those indices, i see us not going in the direction we should be going. for me that's the alarm bell and the wake-up call.
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>> are we as strong as we have ever been or are there ways you see measurable? >> it is on obvious we are not as strong as we have ever been. but also because the world was changed around us. we spent an awful lot of time, effort, and money after world war ii creating an international asystem, economic system in particular to stimulate growth in the rest of the world. so this is the success of a policy of several decades that has made us relatively less strong in terms of disposable cash and disposable incentives to get the behavior that we want to see. militarily, we surely are as strong as we have ever been, but we live in a world now that has
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a number of nuclear powers, and we used to live in a world pre1957, that had none. i think if we were grig dividing, this is a different world. >> well, i would probably never debate. >> well -- [laughter] >> for me "decline" is the wrong world. the world is getting more crowded. there are countries that are catching up. in economic terms, the u.s. will have less share of world wealth and peace in the years ahead. there isn't a country -- by the way, that is, as jessica said, that is the story of america's success. and failure. it's 60 years of promoting an open rule. it is a vision of integration of
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trade. it is what the architects of the 1940's would be flabbergasted with how successful this order has been. if that decline is built into the american vision. i think there is a story of transition, of how this transition will not be able to wield authority, if it ever really could. so do have institutions with countries primarily coming in out of the west. so there is a lot of diplomacy. there is a story of taking advantage of great opportunities that were generated by the u.s. led businesses. >> we have not so much -- it is not that simple. you have the opportunity to --
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>> feel the same way, six months later. there are only two problems with this discussion. one is a tendency to overestimate our path and have a rosie view of how wonderful everything needs to be. they have kicked out several areas where we could say we are measurably worse off. tom writes in his great book, that used to be us. that used to be us, you know, denying massive amounts of people their rights to not being concerned. so i would say historically, there have been periods where we have been on several different measures, and there have been measures where we are worse than we have been. it is a mix. the real question, i think we're addressing -- actually, i think all the things tom talks about are important.
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but in terms of measuring our influence, again, i think i jump on the phrase that john had, which is he said we don't exercise authority, if we ever actually did. i think the question is, of course, we never actually did. we started the cold war dealing with a soviet union that wielded a certain amount of influence. troops controlled half of europe. i think our sagse situation is unquestionably better now than it was did you during that period, in terms of wielding overall influence. i think the real way to look at this, because john also talked about that, is whether i measure american success and american influence, i measure it against the capacity to uphold a certain kind of world order which the united states has upheld for many decades forward second world war. a lot of the changes that people focus on don't affect that world order.
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the rise of brazil, the rise of india, just like germany and japan, don't count against that world order nor against the united states and its ability to influence things sms our goal is to create a world order where we don't have to have as much effort in terms of getting other people to do things. the problem we face right now is of course there are those challenges. even if i look at those challenges, countries like russia and china that don't share our goal as a world order. i have a hard time wishing i was back in the good old days of the soviet union. i think in terms of balance, i'm going to end on this other point. one thing is to over-estimate how wonderful things were in the past and the other thing is to over estimate how terrible things are. we are in the depth of a world depression. presumably we will get out of
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that depression. i think we tend -- we have a lot more influence than we actually have been exercising. >> let's talk about that issue of influence. the united states has just come out of a couple wars in the middle east. there does not seem to be a lot of political will to reengage. we're broke as a country. that's a limit on our ability to defend. we're going to have to start spending less one way or another. that's a limiter. some of the international institutions that we have worked within before are facing other challenges. our european allies are inward looking. that limits them. nato wend outside its boundaries . in terms of our ability, it
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seems there has been strong headwind at the very least. we're talking about the next american president. >> we're talking about the headwind where the united states is still a player. it has to be on the sly and on the cheap. that is to say, new ways to make a difference without necessarily putting marshall plans to work in every region of the world. and i think the other way to handle the headwinds so to come back to one of the virtues, one
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of the strengths of the american approach to global order, and that is that it does have a capacity for various reasons, to partner and build institutions that work with other states. the contrast with china is remarkable. the u.s. has 55 or more security partners. the nature of a commitment. china has one or two. the united states has somehow founded a kind of natural way to operate through international institutions, through partnerships, client-base, all sorts of different mechanisms that can generate cooperation. so in this next phase of american history, it seems like that's an asset that we should see them on. some people call it burden sharing, some people call it redistributing demrobal authority of government. but it is all there and part of leadership. in more demanding times, that is a strength.
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>> let's look at this in a constructive way rather than in a wringing our hands about decline or debating about whether decline is taking place. again, the next president takes office in january. faces all the problems enumerated, dysfunctional congress and all this. are there concrete steps that the government should take to reverse perceptions or counter perceptions that the united states is in decline in terms of its global influence? >> well, the most important one, by far, is attempting to heal the rift domestically. we in answer to your first question said what i think is the biggest saying more than the five areas tom talked about, which is that we have
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politically polarized and divided. we never had as dysfunctional a congress or as dysfunctional a relationship between the two ends of pennsylvania avenue. so the biggest thing the president can do, and nicely he does not have to norblee with any foreign partners to do it, is to get a slide down the fiscal cliff that has a relatively soft landing at the bottom, and to attempt to go beyond that. i think in trying -- i hesitate to say this because it seems so unlikely. but in trying to find some common ground on a range of domestic issues. that's the thing that will have the greatest influence abroad. it doesn't look like it. >> we're moving along at a clip.
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i have two more questions for them, and then i want to turn to you and i want to get one or two questions, maybe three, in quickly for the audience before we go back to the next thing. it will be on the theme of american decline and american influence. if you have a question that's half-baked in your mind, you have another seven minutes to bake it. tom. i think what jessica said made a lot of sense, but it just seemed infused with hope. in the context of the political situation that we are likely to face in this country, based on what you believe is possible in terms of 2013, what can the president do? >> well, let me make a couple points. i start from the position of being something of an american international.
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america plays an unbalanced and unstructured role in the world. if we are -- if we do -- our children will -- your kids will not grow up in just a different america, they will grow up in a different world. that's why i think we are focusing on the sources of our strengths, and how do we renew them? as jessica said, you actually cannot renew those sources of strength without some kind of political compromise. i would argue we are actually two big decisions away from a problem, now if we were able to cut taxes and invest in the
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sources of our strength, i think that would have a huge affect. americans today feel like children of two permanently divorcing parents. i think it is like a pal on america in a lot of ways. i think those two together would have a huge immact. the question is, how close are we to that. the middle east, all important politics happens the morning after the morning after. and here i am talking about the election. i think here the question really is, i ask myself, if romney gets smashed. if he gets smashed, would it -- i would say the political problem is we have a central
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left party and a far right party. that is a structural party. point republican party has gone nuts in my view. >> that's his analytical opinion. [laughter] >> they have been simultaneously at war with math and fizz yixics at the same time. on the deficit, and on -- biology, too, probably, the guy in missouri for sure. the question is, what happens after the morning after the morning after this election if romney loses? they will say he lost because he wasn't far right enough. i wonder if the morning after the morning after people will say we have gone way too far to the right, and we need a center right republican party, which i think the country desperately needs. there needs to be a check under center left, and there is only a way we will get big compromises.
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>> the histories of both clinton and reagan, the big -- it is hard to know whether the republican party, where they will point the blame if that happens. this question is how they decide to 0 spend the next four years. i think it is hard to tell. there is some hope in looking back. >> reagan was also considered a far right lunatic running a far right republican party at the time, by whoever the tom equivalent was at the time. but in fact, he wasn't. life is just a little more complicated despite your careful analysis. >> he raised taxes when we -- >> that's why i think parties in opposition tend to be less
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responsible than parties in power. i think you would tend to agree with that. you are agreing from your point of view. i can think of times when the other party also behaved irresponsibly. and the question to me is, if romney is elected, then you have the party that you think was irresponsible now in a position where they have to govern, and we'll see what happens with that. this generally tends to pull parties more toward the center no matter what. i think when someone becomes president, just the way the left is unhappy with obama in many respects, you have a tendency to see what happens with the democrats. if obama wins the second term, that's going to be the interesting question. i'm optimistic because my reading of history is, we are absolutely been this partisan and this gridlocked many times throughout our history. you know, the 19th century people were buried and put
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democratic or republican on their tombstone. i know you all remember the characters very well. there was tremendous gridlock and it took decades to get out of it. the way the american system works, it is almost designed to create this. i wish i could say it is dysfunction nalt -- dysfunctionality, it is almost designed to create this. oftentimes there is a coming together. i am optimistic that we will see greater progress in these issues. >> let me follow up. we may also have had a very unusual period of the cold war which really pushed both parties to the center, and now that that has been loosened because of the end of the cold war, that we may
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see a greater distance between the two. >> everybody has made an assumption here, you mentioned briefly there was a possibility romney might be elected. let's talk about that a second. theoretically, if -- >> it's a good thing i'm here. >> and i think everybody agrees with that. >> in terms of american influence, do you think president romney would handle things, do things, and have an impact on america that is really different from what president obama would do? >> my basic theme is there is a tremendous degree of continuity at all times between pts. that we already saw, and jessica
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have had a running discussion about this. i was going to say argument but -- >> discussion. >> discussion which has been running since january of 2009. the times writes about this, the continuity between reagan and bush. so any president only changes things 10 degrees one way, 10 degrees the other. there will be some differences. no question romney takes a different view on russia. you would probably see a different policy on russia. one thing we haven't spoken about is iran. and maybe we were going to get to it eventually. since i consider it to be an not unreasonable possibility regardless of who is in the white house, the united states might wind up, whether a desire or has no choice, enzpwaging --
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engaging in a military action with iran. how is that going to affect the issue of the americans being interested in the defense budget? it is ones like this that make me weary of these straight-line projections in the future based on how things look right now. >> i'm at the point about iran and the likelihood that we would end up in some kind of action there. question from the audience. front row. >> governor romney said he wants to create 12 million jobs in his
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term. that's 250,000 a month. in the past, the u.s. has always been an exporter. that is what created jobs. how do you see his comments of creating 12 million jobs in four years? >> unlikely. >> ok. that's one view. unlikely. does anyone want to eelaborate on that? >> i think we're in a completely different job market. .
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and i just think that if we are -- the huge advantage in this world. we have the highest imagination enabling countries in the world. if you have the spark of an idea, you can go to delta and they will design this for you. jump over to amazon " gift wrap it for christmas. all commodities except for this. the problem with this is that the days where ford will move to
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your town with a 25,000 a factory is over. you know the old joke, the modern factory will be two employees, a man and a dog. the man is there to feed the dog in the dog is to keep them away from the machines. and generating 12 million more jobs, maybe it is possible. but it is only be possible if we once again get everyone starting something. what worries me about mayor on a -- he can make any purchase a section that he wants. i think we really need to look at the workplace, education. >> to add something to that. in the last 35 years, 80% of the households until this country have lost ground economically. 80%. for almost all of them in that. , they went from one and come to
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two and, as women enter the workforce. that has a psychological effect that is enormous. it does not get confronted in this campaign and those stark terms. i would say the greatest rank of the american economy and the culture has been that we have been the best at adapting to change, at adapting to rapid james. i think this fact of three plus decades of having lost ground economically makes people fear the future instead of embracing it. when you fear the future, then that adaptability goes. that is why i would say that one of the big boys and which we have changed and which we are
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weaker than we have been. >> one final thought on that. one thing that has surprised me in the last cycle of the recession is that there has not be more talk of protectionism. that gives me a little hope that both parties realize that they kind of 1930's solution to retraction of the economy is really worse than what you would otherwise do. >> to have attended to running at a very hard line against china and taking a tough stand against china. that is actually a switch. the head the republican taking a harder line against trade. >> there maybe some specifics that need to be pursued it. the broader political system is not generating incentives for any political party to use this as a big issue.
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i think that puts us in a position to have a more forward- looking investment in the looking at these things, talks about. the kind of jobs that will require adaptation to be able to acquire perry? question. i will get to the back of the room all tomalley. >> one of the key components of power international power is the perception of power. there have been some recent polls, mainly europe, china, that leaders in those countries pursue our power to be less. when the leaders in countries are less, we have less power. how does that relate to the point he made earlier? >> the chinese press for the secco -- i do not blame them
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because the affair it ourselves. they have made a strategic judgment that the u.s. is in decline only to find themselves surprised. there is a discussion within the chinese strategic community. did i get carried away with this. the americans to not go down as easily as you may imagine. these are usually derived from an american self perception. if i were sitting outside of the world and i saw what our economy was unless all of the talk in the united states about how we are in decline ever come to that conclusion, too. where remains the case if you are not talking about the u.s. or western europeans, i think this is more important than that. it is striking timmy whatever the perception may be how many countries on the periphery of china, how many countries and enter the persian gulf, how many countries enter eastern europe
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and around russia are continuing to look to the united states for strategic and other kinds of support? they have not decided that there is nothing -- there is nobody home there. we have seen the countries of southeast asia, many of them, not to mention korea, japan, india, australia, turning to the united states as they raise concerns about china. for me that is voting with their feet. that is more important of what the polls are saying. >> thought today i read in the paper that the turkish government has agreed to give $1 billion to the egyptian government. i thought this was an interesting twist in things. i think it is clear the egyptians feel the american money would not come, maybe there is that the money. that would change or influence. engagement is proof or the desperate for of the thesis that is some of here. you can have a situation next
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year or the year after where on says, we have the nuclear weapons. the united states has not on an. the united states is not take military action to stop it. the thing that will be damaging to the united states perception of power and leadership but enter the world, not being able to write the checks? >> that is too hypothetical for me. i think -- there are some missteps and there. >> if the united states does that stop iran from getting a nuclear weapon, does that send the message that we are incapable of controlling outcomes in the ways it might have been the pastor military action? >> i think there is still a reasonable chance that a bargain will be struck with iran.
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i think his are require incredible amount of force. there were not get their attention without that. i think there is still the possibility of a deal. i did not what happens. again, i just came from china. i think china is heading for a really difficult decade. i was there -- i do not like to use the term china. i like to say one fifth of humanity. the next president of one-fifth of humanity disappeared for to the brakes and nobody could even say he has a cold. that is unnerving. china is an auditorium rigid authoritarian state. i think he will have to make the biggest reforms in china for the
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first time within a chinese leader and a real two way conversation with this people. where bob and i can disagree is that i do not doubt at all that the world loves us, need sauce, and wants us. he opened the american in the cell line in any country and enter the world and it will stretch for miles. my focus is making sure we are doing the right things that keep us there and to deliver on the promise. the great thing american has is the power of emulation. we actually can lead it through immolation. parks let me take a shot at iran. >> i was going there because i have not figured area. >> i think the answer is that it
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depends on how it happens. what the surrounding context of a possible deal is. i think the president has made -- it may be politically smart, but i think it is a terrible mistake to say that containment is impossible and unacceptable. i do not think it is. that means, as we know from the discretion of all of the red line discussions, there is quite possibly an iranian nuclear capability than ever becomes weapon eyes.
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that probably is the most likely outcome. a deal could be embedded excepts that and it potentially -- non- proliferation as same. it is not probably will be stronger, but it could be nine injured. in those conditions, the answer to your question -- the united states has been the lead actor in making all of that come to get there. are we seen as inevitably weaker if iran has a nuclear capability that is not what a nice, the answer is no. >> looks the to the next slide. it is relevant to what jessica just said. she provided us with a segue. we're talking about the liberal
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international order appeared we're talking about institutions. john has written the most serious threat to american national security today is not a specific enemy but the erosion of the institutional foundations of the global order that the united states has commended for half of a century. he sees the institution of a global order as being toward our strength. jessica has written are fractured gridlock politics as having a major impact abroad and other countries perceptions of influence and power. and, of course, on the desirability of the united states example. the challenge that is posed to the united states in terms of influence by the strength or lack of strength or current state of international institutions, what do you see out there that worries you in terms of the institutional world order ran out?
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>> john and i have a -- i would say subtle argument about this. my view is that it reject this is no place for several carry >> i will try to move past it as quickly as possible. john believes these and institutions can exist independent of american power ultimately if they are set up correctly. i believe they are a function of american power. i do worry about the liberal world order and whether some of the things that a poll that is in a state of the erosion. i think one of the things we may be looking at, which is not the picture anybody has grappled with, what if the united states is not in the climate the institutions of liberal order are? he led the european union, which think will get out of it, but you can be pessimistic about the
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future of the european union. can say that the council has fallen back to a paralysis. you could look at the international trading environment and worry about that. this is the answer to your question. a world and which the united states is strong but all of the institutions is eroding is not a world of 2011. the united states has an interest in trying its best to shore up institutions. >> this is great. >> get set to run it, john. >> a couple of quick points. my thesis is not the institutions are independent. they are instruments of power. they are used to signal limits on power. power is never divorce from institution. a venture that regard, i idea that the united states has been
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so brilliant for half a century or longer because, it has allowed it to make the power more durable and expensive but also making it more delimited and less based on arbitrary use of power and the most traditional sense. there are a vehemence of republican allow for the state to be more influential by allowing it to signal its own strength. a couple of more point about this. my underlying argument is that we are shifting from one organized around trilateral world, the u.s. rip germany, japan, the kind of trilateral system. even when the united states was all-powerful ahead partners. they were restaurant are tied to the united states enter a very special way. the new powers are more far- flung good. most of them are liberal, and
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democratic. the united states accomplishment is about creating a world, spreading a type of the political economy that has become more global. the bad days is it is created a more chaotic system. we have succeeded all too well. the institutions that were built for the trilateral world are not suited for this multi polar, multilateral world. that makes as i have said before, an agenda of new bargains with new states, refurbishing institutions, europeans will have less authority or voting. the united states will have to give way and size of institutional authority. that is what i think is the future of negotiating a liberal world order. the fundamental point is the most of the country's rising up
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our rising of because there are in it, they want to be and it. the trade that comes from openness, protections against precisely where we're talking about before, arbitrary discriminant power. i think there are new constituencies for liberal order, but they have to be brought to the table. they have to be given respect and a level playing field you associated with liberal international order. arthur r. two dimensions to this. i but like to find them. on the one, are reluctant the international institutions. we could have cause for concern. global warming is an issue. the institution that were created have come up short so far. international trade, the wto, it certainly seems to have been overtaken by events and are not
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able to deal with the things in the context of the problems in terms of nuclear proliferation and soon-to-be possible beyond the reach of the mechanisms there. the united nations security council has not been able to get its arms around syria. there is a lot of talking about the g-20 as a mechanism for dealing with a global economic crises. it is complicated, we do it on frankos and the way it was always done. and there is the component you introduced of inter your comments here in terms of the united states. it is not just gridlock policies. it is referencing something. the united states had power because of the example it set and the principles set up -- it upheld. the french, germans, and the
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chinese said, that is it for the united states. this is clearly a corrupt system and they're not managing the system. obama came in and said, i will hendrick international things differently from my predecessor. we probably violated more under obama that we did underbrush. there is a whole new set of questions there. the list could go on. it seems like we have problems with the institution of problems with the ability to lead. i was wondering what your reaction was to one or both of the issues. >> there are two things i would say. one is a general statement, for ideas to win, the soviet union's ideas or strong when the soviet union was strong. and our ideas -- it will only be as strong as we can provide an
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example. in a world of social that works, i really go back to this. in the election is a powerful force in this world. i am so focused on america. the whole argument and in the bucket did about energy environment is if you can get 190 countries in the world to alegre on one and verifiable limits on their commissions, god bless you. and never thought in the process. i always believed, making america -- the greatest country in the world of -- bar countries will follow us than ever on the basis of from paulson. i have never spent time thinking about some of these institutions. i think of for the strong, there will be strong. our influence and a center of them will be strong. there is a question of absolute strength to relative strength. india is a different country, china is a different country today. they are relative strength.
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i worry about silly. s are glad there are rising. it is in more stable world in many ways. i am focused on one thing, our country. how do we get to where we need to be an realize our full potential? if we focus on everything else will fall into place. >> first it is worth sang in the aftermath of the end of the cold war, we had a decade where we really pulled away from the international system dramatically. we underestimated how willing the rest of the world was to act without us. a whole number of meaningful things were done.
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small arms agreement, all of them were done with the u.s. voting against it. the votes were like 178-1. 146, those kinds of votes. the united states was the only democracy with the exception of israel, and india the votes to know. the countries that were voting with us for iran, iraq -- >> candor spirits. >>-- kindred spirits. >> we are only the 600 pound gorilla now. china is the a hundred pound gorilla appeared we cannot be
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successful without us. i think this gets back to the discussion i had before whether there is continuity or does continuity. i think there is likely to be if governor mitt romney is elected in the united states attitude toward international institutions, in particular to whether diplomacy can be problem-solving. you have to remember that the kind of rhetoric that came out of this country and enter the bush years about the united states should unambiguously embrace its imperial role, currently an adviser to gov. romney.
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john bolton said, it is a big mistake to grant ability to international law even one that must seem in our short-term interest to do so because of a long-term the goals of those who think international law means anything are those who want to restrain the united states. this is another adviser to gov. romney. i say this not to make a partisan statement, but to say it is different. we spent years and enter the bush years talking about an imperial role for the united states. empire means you have a power about the role. it makes rules for everybody else. that is just not what this world is of central my view. it will never work.
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i think within a united states that can solve its domestic problems and recapture a sense that it is an example worth emulating, there is -- although they are not nearly as strong as we would like them to be, there is health and strength in the multinational system. >> to talk a lot about continuity. if he set aside the past 50 years, the longest extended continuous strain in the international outlook, staying out of the world. it was looking after our own problems. it is taking advantage of the fact that the atlantic and the pacific analyzed as as being among the issues on the other side of the world. do you not were there is an impulse with an the far right and also to some degree with and
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the far left and turn this country to move a denture an isolationist direction to move away from spending money and writing checks for institutions to move towards taking care of our own business of enter our own way? here is president obama. but said his strategy toward drugs and several attacks and so forth. it is very exceptional list. is the exceptional stempel is something that could actually become more extreme in the next several years? >> i was with the right up until the end it. they are two very different things. exceptional as some can be the engine for imperial foreign policy as well. it is the sons and america has a special role to play in the world, a view that goes back to the founding of the nation that leads to a tremendous amount of " activity. >> i was seen them both blank -- >> let me beat up on the first part of your premise.
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we are always an isolationist nation. that is the greatest myth. we tell ourselves this myth. people do things to us or we have to deal with them or there are evil people who hijack our foreign-policy and lead them into terrible directions. the united states is not a isolate -- isolationist power. we started off as and have the colonies and was steadily for 400 years expanded our words. if you want to call that an isolationist nation, i do not think that is true. this is why i did not worry about that. we had one true isolationist. . it was only after world war one. thankfully we learned a lesson from that. >> we were also before world war one. we had no desire to play a global role. >> you have to at least talk
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about the pre 8098. . >> in terms of the semantics, i think we should get bogged down in this. thomas jefferson and george washington talked about -- they did not consider what happened on our continent to be foreign. >> but we were a commercial republic. we were expansive it. we have always been expensive. every decade for the last three or four, we have heard america is about to head off and an isolationist and phase. this was the concern after the end of the cold war. many people said, yes, we do not need to be of of of into the world as much. they have bill clinton intervening and identify different places. they have september 11 and you are off to the races again. of course we want to deal with our problems, focus on our
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recession, somebody has always pointed out we are now becoming protectionist, we're not withdrawing from the world. president obama talks about making more commitments to east asia than in the past. i do not see any prospect. >> it is so overwhelmingly impossible. >> the united states is still the most powerful country on earth. i do not think i heard anything to suggest any other country -- the united states may have fewer capabilities going forward relative to the world, there is no one country that is likely to be a competitor or replacement for the united states. we have a unique capacity. it is therefore able to assess it its interests in shipping the international environment so it can have a geopolitical phase that is cross regions and allows
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the united states to pursue interests and all the different ways. >> you talk about the far right. the high point of republican isolationism is when pat buchanan got whatever percentage of the vote he got a downturn 1992. there has not been another person in the republican party -- ron paul has not occurred yet. the nominee ron paul has not occurred. every candidate rigid and that we are not on the record here -- there was no isolationist series can did it until the republican party. >> does somebody have a question here? is there a microphone in the last row there? >> it is important for the united states to abide by international law and order? is there a way the united states could use military force
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against iran the's nuclear program without united nations approval and in compliance with international law? >> who wants to take that? you can go through a lot of presidents going back through bel clinton, obviously, who took military action without a united nations mandate. barack obama ran and says repeatedly he does not consider the united states bound to pursue its interests bound by united nations resolutions. america has a very ambivalent attitude toward international law. we are in some respects the greatest spokesman sometimes their international law. read the history and culture war and through the effect refunded the united nations, or have
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been among the most persistent ignores of international law at the same time. it is always -- partly because we have an exception of the that the laws are right for everybody. they're not always run for us because we have a special role to play. >> is there a bad thing damaging to our status and credibility in the international community? >> it seems to me if you try to say it in one sentence with the united states goal ought to be, it is ought to be creating a world order. it is what we would like for were not the most powerful country. that is one has a role. the role of relevant here is prevention, that is recognized as a legitimate -- what is not
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recognized is prevention. the difference has to do with the eminence of the threat. if there were clear evidence that iran was violating its -- was were penalizing the, i think there would be an international feeling that this was a legitimate act of pre- emption. i have a feeling we would deeply regret it. i think it would have legitimacy if not legality. if it were distant from the threat or if the threat was wrong, then you have a whole different deal. one of the been a really terrible things about the iraq war, which we are now as a country deciding to slip into oblivion of trying to learn the lessons from it, it was done on
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the basis of an entire a legitimate legal basis, which is prevention. that is something that has no standing under international law and which has been rejected by many of our great presidents, by eisenhower, kennedy, lincoln, so i think that is going to be the deciding line. >> one more quick question from the back. by a quick question, whoever has their hand extended. >> i will try to ask this quickly. the question i have is really about global standing. he made the point that if we go
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back to the reference of our research and development going down a cliff, if we are looking at the dangers always presenting by the hollow ring out of the military, our economic and governmental national security is predicated on our ability to innovate. if we're not doing that or if we're not making investments, crafting to other nations that we are vulnerable? >> we have 25 minutes to go. i want everyone to know we have another round of these. >> this is an important point. we are in an age where all net new jobs to the economy in the last five or 10 years have come from startups, and the companies. it is something we are uniquely positioned as a country to
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promote. there is no secret to how we did it. we attracted the best minds, we have created the right infrastructure, education, legal incentives. we have pushed up the boundaries of biology and chemistry and physics and math and ways that led to all of the amazing new companies. one of the great strengths of our country is so flexible that it is so full of people that didn't get the word that china will eat our breakfast, germany will eat our lunch. that is the greatest thing about our country. we need to be doing this at a scale now. because of the nature of war. i do not think we have been to before. i was talking to a day yesterday to tell me he is building a new hotel. it was one of the big chains.
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just more simple structures and operations. i stayed in one, the high it and solid city this summer. the front desk is actually also the star box and breakfast counter. the same person the texture and gives you your coffee and danish. everybody is looking to do more things with your people. instead of 25,000 person factor, we need 50 people creating jobs for 20, with the 20 trading jobs for 40. i think it will require a different approach to the economy, different incentives, a different approach to education. we have to completely martz them. and an ideal world, that is what the election would be about.
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sooner or later we will have to go to it. parks let's go to the last group of questions. it talks about the actors and the rise of china. you might also characterized the emergence of new competitors and rivals, both in terms of economics and power. china is getting the most out of its authoritarianism. by contrast, americans are only getting 50% of the benefits from our system. john rock, it may be possible for china to overtake the united states, but it is much less likely china will overtake the western order. i would like to go to you on that and then opened the set. >> i have always thought the discretion of the nine states chinese discussions missed the
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fact that china is not just facing the united states but is facing a larger system, which we have been talking about tonight. the larger system is huge. it has a liberal characteristics, real geopolitical characteristics because it is filled with not just the institutions of trade and so forth. it is constitutes good by a world of liberal democracies. china faces a much more formidable order than any other world state in history has. if you think of a world still looking up, and they have faced one military state or several. not a thick a global system that is any effect world. i think china is not going to be able to do to the world what the united states had the opportunity to do in the 20th
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century several times. that is to say really recruit international order. it also helps the united states came to power during the nuclear era where there likely will not be a great power of war. were in the past as always been the ingredient that has demolish the old world order and provided a state to do something new. china will not be able to play that game. nor will china have incentives to do that. as we have suggested, china is at least halfway into this order. it is united nations security council member, it is embedded even increasingly with an and regional economy and institutions in asia. china faces an international order easy to join and very hard to overturn terret i do not think we will have a repeat of what is the classic problem of world politics, the power
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transmission problem, which was the most dramatically revealed again to the last century with the rise of germany. the terms of rise and transition are different in the past. >> the world order may be easy to join, but his loss of does not have a lot of empty space in it. >> it is and corn for china reject china's 2010 was an important year for china to learn the lesson that bismarck learn, those sucker bismarck forgot. that is to say, it is the problem of self encirclement. you have power, you have the sense of entitlement to project influence in to your region.
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other countries in southeast asia and also japan and korea are not inclined to play the game. they were recessed. a winter 2010, the asian regional forum with relations to japan and later with korea, each of the three cases, the states around china responded of the intra with the recall hedging against. the important -- the most important thing i think to shape how china rises is to have china sea that it is the pathway to a peaceful rise that will take place within the order that the united states has helped build but the longer runs as a simple state that has run the system. china has reasons not to experience the problem of self encirclement. his support for the united
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states and its allies to have mechanisms in place so china, should a huge -- choose to, one to signal accommodation, it is have the tools to do so. >> one of the things that counterbalances the trend super talking about earlier, it is the fact that here is china, our biggest potential rival, and a seemingly ambivalent about it. early on in the administration a crisis there was a lot of talk about g2. china said we do not want to be involved in that world. it was kind of like, we want to go slower than you, if none necessarily a leading role. even though i think china was for the first time involved in a central world and a middle east issue, one of the things that development center of the middle east have demonstrated is china does not want to get that involved. it does not want to play a hands-on role.
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and they may not be ready for prime time. we might be a little bit weaker. in terms of all of the potential rivals, they're not doing so well either. dax i would agree with that. what strikes me about china, i was just there. this trip more than ever, it is saw the is that china is elytra society. to be a low trust society until the age of innovation, that is a really bad thing. if i do not trust it, i cannot share my ideas with the. if i did not trust my intellectual property to be protected. i think it would be a huge challenge for china going forward. i know the history of rising powers, this is a country that has to air -- this is facing 300 million people from the countryside to the city between now and 2030. that is the size of the united
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states. i think that challenge in this kind of system where the leadership is going to have to bear have a two-welcome rescission, i think it will be all consuming. i think the better. as the best. something really important happen in the last decade. an intricate as an forever to a bar called "the world is flat." when i read about, office but did not think -- exist, none of it existed. since then, we have gone from a connected to a hyper connected world. to me that is what is really shaping so much of the behavior. this is a. the made yesterday. your friends can kill you so much faster than your enemies.
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as greece pulls out of the european evening, everybody in this room will be affected. if china's growth from 8% 2 two%, we have a problem i think the world from hyper connected, it all happen in the guise of the sub prime crisis. i am not tonight yves, i understand history. i think china will be so internally consumed for the next 10 years, i am not saying do not worry about them, but i worry much more about their collapsed and their rise. >> one of the best ways historically to take people oppose the minds of his military ventures abroad. as hyper connected as -- your right. a big part of it in china is the growth of nationalists.
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the tensions that are growing with japan are -- i thought to have learned its lesson and entered 2010, but it is come back. we may be seeing early signs of -- our national interests are better than they used to be. >> china is facing a lot of big problems. by one estimate i saw by 2016 the difference in chinese wages in our wages will be 7 cents or something like that. china is buying the robust, too. they're not creating jobs is likely -- as quickly as they would like. we tend to overstate things in the things too much in the context of the moment. i wonder if the problem with some of the big emerging powers is not that they are so strong,
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but how we can they are. what problems are likely to have. all are going to an economic problem. all of them face major economic issues with the possible exception of brazil. all of them face and equality and gaps in their society. none of them are used to being big global players with the exception of russia. we have major powers that are also toddlers in terms of being major powers and having real limitations. i wonder how that should change our view or if you even agree with that. >> i went to take note of the american the exception lost had to the they are tat -- toddlers, but that is it debacle american approach. on behalf of the rest of the globe [applause] it is delightful to have to
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speaking. >> the problem is, first of all i 83 these countries will have more problems than we were sitting at the birds were going to take cover and the united states or in decline. shockingly enough, they have had difficulties. when we are talking about geopolitics, here i agree with both points that jessica made when you talk about taking china. china is in a race between the most rational approach to what their situation is. there may be a less rational approach. and there is a 19th century china that thinks territory is what matters. who flies the flag is what is important. they have basic, classic attitudes toward the growth of their power, attributes that the united states exhibited during the 19th century. that is exactly what jessica says.
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we have more power, we want to be recognized for the power that we have. what our problem is is that there are a million reasons why china should not be flexing muscles and getting into situations where the rest of the world will do exactly as john says. look how many countries in the past amid the same error? he wrote about talking about how irrational the was for any powers to go to war. for years before they all went to war. that is why does when i think about the american role, we will not be able to predict the future. we do have to do what is possible to discourage them from taking a wrong course and encourage them from taking the right course. that is what basically the consistent policy of this administration and many previous administrations is right. there is an element of hedging that says, we will back of these countries if you push too hard.
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we also do welcome you into this international system under the terms that happen to be -- the hit telling other countries what happens to be in their interest. it happens to be in their interest to rise as the scenario suggests a. >> if you look at the behavior toward taiwan, i think it is a are a contrast how they are dealing with islands now. for many rick -- for many years, that was china's policy. suddenly they just completely reverse that and winter eternal embrace. they basically absorb taiwan. we saw them reverse course, too. >> this is one area i think the political parties, the foreign policy operators mostly agree that we need to engage china.
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we also need to be providing counter weight and reassure our allies and trade the geopolitical space and weight to in the region so that options and not available to china. it does mean engaging china, showing china where it pathway might exist. heads and keep our allies who want us there but to do not to -- this is where both sides -- china not wanting to -- on the american side we have an incentive not to be to crusade oriented. our allies do not want us to pursue a kind of old-style 19th century containment policy. not too hot, and not to hold -- not too cold. there is an incentive to be
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prudent d firm but not try to turn this into a new cold war. on the chinese side they have an incentive to reassure their neighbors or their trade partners and to our tied to the united states for security. >> i agree with everything that was just said. there is a profound a well of mistrust between the united states and china. basic concepts and what we are after is not control. interpretation the motive behind our actions and vice versa. in addition to not making them the enemy, we have to reject we have a huge difficult job and trying to chip away at the mistrust and trying to build a clear foundation of where we understand each other of where we interact. >> we only have a couple of
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minutes. i want to get a quick answer from each one of the. it seems to me the candidate who wins the presidential election is typically the most optimistic and evict. he can portray a vision of the united states that is positive implausible and they know a way to get there. it has been very interesting to me watching the political campaign that it has been so negative and absent a huge, positive views. one of the reasons this is striking is that things are not actually so bad. the united states is growing a little bit better than developed economies around the world. other places are struggling, we have a little bit better manufacturing members them had a week ago. unemployment is falling a little bit. we still have problems, but we also have some amazing opportunities. one of the biggest developments of the past decade as new
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american energy paradigm. there is a vast reserves of energy that we are making big -- bright feathers among alternative energy. energy independence or something akin to it is a possibility. in a world where superadded industries are key, the guy who protect intellectual property the bust has an advantage. the place with the best schools and has an advantage. we have more capital. we have the formula to be the most successful nation at enter the world. talking about renaissance and resurgence. for some reason this is brought up by candidates and is drowned out by other things. i would like to quickly go down. i would like to get a sense of your reaction to this moment of promise for the united states. >> u.s. 08 the one that thinks
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things are better than people think it. on the other hand, we are in a political campaign. nobody is supposed to say the other guy is like a disaster. i am generally optimistic about the united states. i think we will come out of the recession, and i think you will find our way to a political deal that deals with all of the range of economic issues that we have. i also think we continue to be in the most advantageous position. i would not trade our position with any other country in the world. >> there is none of the things you enumerated i would disagree with. those are all true. you could also said it is also true that s.a.t. scores have gone down for 40 years.
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the lowest this year, etc. here is what worries me. there is a plan that asks, do you believe the government in washington does what is right most or all of the time? when that question was first asked starting in 1958 through the mid 60's, 75% of people said yes. and there was an 18-year slide when it went from 75% to 70%. it has stated there in the region from 25% to 30% ever since. through massive changes and ideology and political leadership and everything. that means anybody under 40 has lived their entire life in a country and which the majority of citizens to not